Technology Moves Ahead But Simple Games Will Remain the Same


I use the phrase “back in the day” often.  In fact, “back in the day” I was a terror on the basketball court.  This past weekend I attended my annual Jiveman basketball reunion.  We’ve all changed a little bit, but “back in the day” it seemed nobody could touch us.

At one point during our weekend reunion, the wife of one of my co-horts told me that our “back in the day” was so far back; it’s not relevant to where we are now.  In short, we can’t judge based on “back in the day”.  The time is now and “back in the day” is just something to laugh about.

She was so right, even though at times I like to think I’m 30 again.  The bottom line about reunions are its all about memories and friends.  Stories about “back in the day” get twisted, changed and funnier every year.  I hope we have many more of those basketball reunions.

It’s funny how time flies.  When you are a kid, time can be so slow.  When you are a teenager, at times, you can’t grow up soon enough.  When you are in your twenties life is like still young.  When you hit 30 you know life is changing but there is still a lot of blue sky ahead.  Hitting 40 is a bit life changing and as you near 50, it seems you are working with a lot of younger people.  It’s like what happened, life is passing at warp speed.

Life is about pace and working hard.  However, what I find interesting is how time and technology move together.  For instance I got an email from my niece today.  She will be starting her PhD this fall and is currently working at a major health science centre in Ontario.  She had flown to a conference on the East coast and for whatever reason emailed me to tell me how much she enjoyed a past column I had written about Google.

She informed me that she was doing some research work measuring the relevance of specific search results given from some of the more popular search engines on the Internet.  I responded to her by emailing her an account of her “old uncle” doing a Master’s thesis before the Internet emerged.  I told her the newest communication technology at that time was the “fax machine.”  The following is a quote from that email.

“I’m one of those old guys who did a Master’s Thesis in the days before the Internet.  At that time a “fax machine” was the new thing.  Let me tell you.  I was told that the University had a “fax machine” which did wonders.  I said what is a “fax machine”?  Somebody told me you put a piece of paper in it and it comes out of a “fax machine” at the other end.  I said where is this “fax machine”.  I was told the University of Guelph had one “fax machine” at Johnston Hall.  So I asked our secretary, she said it was all true.  So I gave her a paper, which I needed to go to Montreal to their “fax machine”.  Later that day I phoned Montreal and they said they had it.  It came out of their “fax machine”. Unbelievable!”

Am I that much of a relic?  I don’t think so because as most of you know I’m always on the leading edge of technology.  However, “back in the day” the spectre of a machine that sputtered out some “hard copy” in real time at the other end of the world wherever that may be was fascinating.  In fact those “fax machines” did change our world.  I bought a fax modem for my computer in 1987.  I substituted my fax line for email in 2000.

Of course the real question is “what will be the future” and how will technology forge that?  Of course nobody knows, but a good look at the past might give some clues.  Take those hydro poles out front of your house or that gas station down the road.  Simply put, most of us take that for granted.  However, I am reminded that when my deceased grandfather was a boy, there were no hydro lines and of course no gas stations.  As my late grandfather used to say, it was the “horse and buggy” days.

I like to remind myself of that because I believe our world in the future will be without both, hydro lines and gasoline stations.  As technology moves ahead, I’ll be doing things that years before I couldn’t even imagine.  However, something tells me that basketball hoop won’t move from 10 to 11 feet high.  Needless to say, simple games played by boys now growing old will hopefully remain the same.